3/18/20 CoronaVirus & No In-Person Worship Service

Church Life – Update and Recommendations:

Dear New Church of Phoenix Members, friends and Visitors,

I am writing this morning to update you on church activities at the New Church of Phoenix during this CoronaVirus Pandemic.  

To begin, I would like to send my thoughts and prayers to each of you and your loved ones.

This is critical time when many people are experiencing high level of anxiety, and for that reason let’s try to avoid doing anything that leads to panic.

As COVID-19 situation continues to escalate, we are all called to follow updates from federal agencies and public health experts, such as CDC, NIH and World Health Organization.

The guideline from these experts have led the General Church Bishops’ Office to communicate unprecedented messages to General Church employees, about worship

Here is the recommendation we received from the Bishop’s office and HR:

No in-person worship services.

In keeping with those recommendations to severely restrict in-person contact, we are strongly recommending that all US-based congregations and groups stop in-person worship services for the time being. This, together with other social distancing recommendations, goes against the grain for many of us. It is hard for us to even make the recommendation. It is, however where we are. While recognizing pastors typically have the final say of what happens in their congregations, our best understanding of federal and state guidance within the country lead us to make this unprecedented recommendation from the Bishop’s office. We pray that the day will arrive sooner rather than later that we can return to the in-person worship that we love, but for now, please seek other means to connect people to the Lord.

The safety and soundness of our members, visitors and community are of utmost importance to the church leadership.

The best way to think about the “No In-Person Worship” is to remember that this is not primarily about self-protection, but protection for others, especially the most vulnerable in our community (which includes a lot of the elderly!).

And thinking of worship as an act of charity and love to the Lord, we want to focus on charity rather than self.

The above recommendation from the Bishop’s Office brings the following question to mind:

  • How can we worship differently?

I believe Technology is the answer here.

I will be Broadcasting Live on our Facebook page, from my Home studio, at our usual time (10:30Am) Sunday Mornings. And then post it on our YouTube channel afterward.

How long would this last? Very difficult question to answer at this moment. My thinking is that we are cancelling in-person worship service for the next two Sundays, and then assess as we go.

April opens with Palm Sunday, and it maybe that this April 5, 2020 will be a unique and unprecedented Palm Sunday. Time will tell.

The office of outreach is offering an online virtual community system that they have already been developing via the Grand Human Project (grandhumanproject.org). This platform is intended for worship service, doctrinal groups, or other local church initiatives. More on this soon.

At times like this it is good to be reminded of what is essential worship.

Secrets of Heaven 1175: To make internal worship external is to make external worship essential, rather than internal, which is the reverse of the former, being as if it was said that internal worship without external is no worship, while the truth is that external worship without internal is no worship.  …  All external worship is a formality of internal worship, for internal worship is the very essential; and to make worship consist of that which is formal, without that which is essential, is to make internal worship external. As for example, to hold that if one should live where there is no church, no preaching, no sacraments, no priesthood, he/she could not be saved, or could have no worship; when yet he/she can worship the Lord from what is internal. But it does not follow from this that there ought not to be external worship.

During this critical time. Let’s remember that true worship is from the quality of our internal self. Electronics can be good means, yet you do have the Lord in His Word, and you are in no way kept back from worshiping Him, in prayer, in song, in reading and learning, and in life. Even though it seems we are being told not to congregate, we can still gather together in what is essential by going to the Lord in His Word. This time also shall pass.

Matthew 28:20 says: And lo, I am with you always!

Finally, I thought this is good to know:

According to a new study from the National Institute of Health, the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive for days on certain surfaces:

  • The virus can remain viable for as long as 3 hours in the air.
  • 24 hours on cardboard
  • And as long as 2 to 3 days on plastic or stainless Steel surfaces

This is serious. We are to do the outmost to protect ourselves and our community.

I hope to see you all online this Sunday at 10:30am.

NB: No in-person Bible Study as well. I am thinking of better ways to have online classes. So please bear with me. Any suggestions are welcome!

Keep your faith high! You need it this time of COVID-19.

Make the Lord your best companion this critical time.

More communication will follow soon.


Jean Atta,